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Titian, The Aldobrandini Madonna

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John and a Female Saint or Donor ('The Aldobrandini Madonna')
Artist Titian
Artist dates active about 1506; died 1576
Date made about 1532
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 100.6 × 142.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG635
Location Room 9
Collection Main Collection
The Aldobrandini Madonna

The Virgin and Child are accompanied by the young Saint John the Baptist and a kneeling woman, who cannot be clearly identified. She holds the infant Christ in her arms and gazes at him in adoration.

It is not clear which, if any, New Testament episode is shown here. The shepherd and herdsman in the middle distance – and the angel in the sky – might allude to the Annunciation to the Shepherds (Luke 2: 8–17) and suggest the birth of Christ. However, the presence of John the Baptist, who gives the Virgin fruit and flowers for his baby cousin, would be more appropriate to a Rest on the Flight into Egypt – but we would expect Saint Joseph to be included in such a scene.

This must be a non-narrative picture intended for private devotion, combining selected elements from the life of Christ.

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